Oh where tell me where…

Yesterday I was in Edinburgh and decided on impulse to check the big Waterstones near the west end of Princes Street. So I went to the 2nd floor travel writing section and, damn it, no copies of The Storm Leopard. So I went down to the Basement and checked Natural History – nope. So I went to the desk. Yes they have 2 copies pre-ordered in June and it is supposed to be in Travel Writing. So we check again – nope. And Natural History – nope. And Scottish Travel – nope and Scottish Nature – nope. I point out that it won’t sell if it is in the wrong section. For all I know it is shelved with other books published by Whittles – Engineering, Maritime, Military History, Geotechnics.
‘Maybe’, I suggest, ‘you put it with meteorology’.
The assistant is very helpful and quite embarrassed. She promises to find it for me.
Does anyone else have this kind of problem?

About Martyn Murray

I fell in love with nature when I turned twenty-one camping under Acacias in East Africa, surrounded by giraffe and zebra with my nape hair raised by the distant roaring of lions. I went on to work for fifty years in Africa, Europe and Asia as an ecologist and conservation consultant. A few years ago I moved to the Isle of Lismore to pursue my passion for reconnecting people with the natural world. My first book, The Storm Leopard, is a journey across Africa and into the heart of the environmental crisis. My second, Origin of Species: Bite-Sized, contains the essence of Charles Darwin's greatest work – his theory of evolution by natural selection – in a text that is 15% the length of the original. The third, Beyond the Hebrides, is the story of a sea voyage in an old leaking boat and on how to keep personal freedom alive. I am currently working on a fourth which is about the global collapse of the natural world. Its working title is, In This Together. It challenges us all over our current connections with nature. More details are on my website, www.martynmurray.com.
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5 Responses to Oh where tell me where…

  1. JFDerry says:

    Finding your book; a game between authors and bookshops as old as time. Then moving yours to what you consider the more appropriate section, and your competitors’ to Gardening, or Mind Body & Spirit is sort of a review; the literary equivalent to pissing on art, or setting fire to a pile of trees on the embankment. I have had the same discussion with bookshop staff, but never moved any books, although if I were to, I’d probably do it bullock-naked to add an extra dimension of anarchy. I’ve never found Darwin in Scotland, a book about Charles Darwin, where you might expect to see it in the sections on Darwin, Natural History, Popular Science, etc. I have seen it in Scottish History and gave up looking when I last saw it cheek to jowl with a biography of the Big Yin.

  2. Vanessa says:

    As a bookseller, I should probably point out that books are shelved either according the BIC code assigned by the publisher or, most commonly in smaller shops, where we think they’ll sell. I’m not familiar with The Storm Leopard, but Julian’s book Darwin in Scotland is shelved in our Scottish history section as that’s where it sells from. Contrary to what some authors believe, we do want to sell books as that’s what puts food on the table! Without wanting to sound snarky – really not my intention – most booksellers could do without spending a large chunk of a Saturday a few weeks before Christmas humouring an author by chasing all over the shop trying to prove that their book is in stock.

    And please don’t move books to other sections; it’s the surest way to make sure (if spotted by staff) that your books languish spine-out and ignored or even chucked in the returns box.

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  4. Glad to say that The Storm Leopard is now displayed in the travel writing section in Waterstone’s and everyone is happy about it!

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